NBA players will see 25% of their paychecks taken out starting May 15, the first direct hit to their salaries because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The decision was made Friday in a board of governors meeting and was done in concert with the National Basketball Players Association. Players will be paid in full on May 1.
The cutback in salary has been expected for some time in response to the NBA’s shutdown, which started March 11 and has no end in sight. The regular season would have ended Wednesday, and 259 games have yet to be played — but none has been officially called off yet.
“Through this agreement, and in order to provide players with a more gradual salary reduction schedule, partial reductions of 25% will begin with the players’ twice-a-month payment due on May 15,” the NBA said in a news release.
The NBA playoffs would have started Saturday. If the 259 outstanding regular-season games are not played, the league’s players will lose about $800 million in gross salary. Taking 25% out of checks on May 15 — and, presumably, checks on June 1 and June 15 if play does not resume by then — would amount to players across the league missing $40 million in each pay period.
The reduction in pay is in anticipation of what the collective bargaining agreement between the league and its players describes as a “force majeure event” — the legal term for unforeseeable circumstances, such as an epidemic or pandemic.
Per the CBA, players could lose 1.08% of their annual salary for each game that is canceled. By taking some money out now, the hit the players would take later if games are canceled would be lessened.
On Friday evening, in the introduction of his virtual meeting with the board of governors, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said: “We also gave a report to our board, Rick Buchanan, our general counsel, on the method that we’ve agreed upon with our players association for reducing their compensation pursuant to the force majeure clause in our collective bargaining agreement. The agreement, which has already been reported, is that beginning on May 15th, we’ll begin reducing 25% of their compensation. Just as a reminder, that’s a formula under our collective bargaining agreement that long ago had been negotiated to deal with crisis situations like this, including pandemics.”